I've been trying to live more intuitively, lately. What this has uncovered, is that I don't trust very well, or very often. I think that I must especially not trust myself, the experience of my life. I was disappointed a lot, as a young person. As a child, I was not an achiever. I didn't have anyone rallying around me, standing at my back and urging me forward. I was afraid all the time. I learned to bury that fear in a great many things.
I acted mean. I pointed out flaws in other people. I made a lot of jokes. I was crude. I also sought approval with every molecule that made me. I wanted so badly to be held, to be quieted, to be cherished. I remember feeling like all of the girls of the world were cherished sweetly, and that I had been forgotten by god, by mother.
As I grew, I started to paint myself. I used my body as a palate to act out upon. My eyes were black. My hair was in knots. I laced myself up tightly. I broke bottles on the kitchen counter and cut my wrists. I made scars on my skin. I did it deliberately. I swallowed so much. Filth and pills and cruelty.
I grew some more and so did my habits. I started falling asleep on couches with the stuffing spilling out, neatly curled into the corner of a basement. I convulsed on a futon, once, under an endless bare bulb in an endless basement.
And then I was done growing. I grew up. Became an adult. That's what happened. I just stopped all that nonsense and cleaned up and bought a house and had children and got married and my husband is an accountant. It was looking a little sketchy for a while there, but thank goodness I had the good sense to grow up.
So, now, everything is okay.
Except that, you can stop behaving in certain ways, but you can never stop being the person who did them. You can stop sinning, but you will never be able to say, "That wasn't me." All of it... crying in the hallway of my elementary school on the way to the nurses office to tell her that my belly ached, when it didn't. Everything ached. All of that, the baptism in the pool under the alter, wanting my mommy, eating rice with cinnamon and sugar, the loud sound of our station wagon pulling up to get me in front of my school. The boys who lied and kissed me and how they all tasted like eight dollar vodka, like sour vomit, how it became the scent of closeness, of love. Living in places where my lover didn't come home at night, how he had a split lip in the morning and shoved me into the book cases where I obsessively piled dogeared paperback books of Russian translations and the warm, sweet words of monks who told me to be there. Be there. Just be there.
It has all been you.
I have been doing kind of wonderfully, if you've been wondering. I panicked, and I have a lot to say about it... but, for now, let me just say that I'm doing better. A lot of stimuli hit me all at once, and I was trying my best to be there for everybody who needed me, and I got sick and everything tumbled apart.
I wanted to write something today about how much I learned from falling apart, for a minute. And I will write about it. It's important and I want to tell you about it, but I decided to do some yoga first. My Louise is napping, and I never have a quiet house in the afternoon. As I lay on the ground, at the end of my practice, a thought came to me. It was an ugly thought, and I recoiled, wanted it gone. But, I told myself, my whole life has been an exercise in trying to get away from ugly thoughts. I spend so much time running from them, that I can't sit still for long enough to notice how beautiful my world is, now. If I keep running from things that feel uncomfortable, I will never be still enough to notice any comfort. I will keep craving it; crying with my hands on my belly and saying, "It aches and I am afraid."
The thought that came to me was something my mother told me, fairly recently. She told me a few years ago about my grandfather's moment of death. It haunts me, if I allow myself to picture it. Mostly, if it shows up in my thoughts, I recoil and send the thought away.
I wanted to acknowledge it here, today, even though it will make me cry.
My grandfather was a Marine in Korea. He had a tattoo on his forearm that made me think he was the strongest man in the world, just like Popeye the Sailor Man. He drank Jim Beam whiskey and had terrible arthritis, by the time I knew him. He sat for long hours at the kitchen counter, staring out of the window. He loved me. My own father was soft and mean and read books. I loved my Pap. I believed that he had never been afraid, in his life, not ever. He was too tough. All I wanted, when I grew up, was to be able to drink whiskey, with two ice cubes that toppled over and fused to one another bravely.
When my pap died, I was in high school. I wasn't around, the way teenagers are often no longer around, suddenly.
My mom told me that he gasped in his hospital bed and he cried out that he was afraid. He begged into the air for help. "Oh, help me!" he screamed, over and over. And that is how the strongest man in the world, died.
It is not lost on me that we spend our whole lives grasping for something to hold on to, begging wherever we can for help, only there isn't anything to hold on to, there isn't any help. There isn't anything to clamp in our fists and covet and grip and it will give us peace. There isn't anything, and that isn't a bad thing, we just need to understand that the great, wide expanse of being human, isn't for hiding from and holding in place.
A lot is changing for me, I think. Nap time is over, though. I'll be back sometime soon.